Quake city set for a shopping binge: economist

7:06 am on 30 March 2012

Retail activity in Christchurch is expected to leapfrog the rest of the country over the next couple of years.

Statistics New Zealand has released its first Christchurch Retail Trade Indicator and plans to update it every three months.

The current figures show retail activity fell by more than 4% in the March quarter last year because of February's devastating earthquake and closure of stores, but rebounded more than 8% in the following quarter as quake victims replaced goods and fixed homes and buildings.

Spending flat-lined in the second half of the year, compared with growth of more than 4% in the rest of the country.

UBS economist Robin Clements says the rebuilding of Christchurch will eventually spur a bout of activity.

"At the moment we're probably still experiencing a bit of population loss...but once we get to the point where the population is expanding, there's going to be greater spending," he says.

"As houses are rebuilt, refurbished, there's going to be a lot of spending on furniture and fittings, kitchenware. That's going to be picking up by the end of the year, and, one would imagine, be pretty strong over the next several years".